Researchers at Johns Hopkins University now have federal approval to test if blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can help protect the heroes on the front line of the battle against the coronavirus.

The hope is that transfusions of blood plasma would boost the immune systems of health care providers, first responders and others at high risk of exposure, the researchers said.

COVID-19 survivors carry antibodies generated to fight the disease and the plasma is the part of blood that contains those antibodies.

“The ability to carry out a prophylaxis trial will tell us whether plasma is effective in protecting our health care workers and first responders from COVID-19,” said Arturo Casadevall, a Johns Hopkins infectious disease expert, in a statement.

The plasma transfusions are a common treatment for patients suffering severe bleeding;  and scientists hope the same treatment can be used as both a preventative therapy and to help boost the immune systems of those already sick.

The US Food and Drug Administration issued Johns Hopkins approved for a clinical trial Friday.

Casadevall has amassed a team of physicians and scientists from around the country who are now establishing a network of hospitals and blood banks that can collect, isolate and process blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors, according to Johns Hopkins.

“Dr. Casadevall and his colleagues from across Johns Hopkins and partners around the nation are working with creativity and persistence to face this disease head-on,” said Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels in a statement.

“Arturo’s and his partners’ work reflects Johns Hopkins’ abiding commitment to collaboration and discovery that serves humanity.

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